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Help - Picky Eater, Sunday Dinner.

soyarra Sep 4, 2008 09:42 PM

I will be in Berkeley Sunday night to take my niece to dinner. The problem: I need to find a restaurant with good plain cheese pizza (she hates Zachary's deep dish), or a good plain hamburger, or some other sort of plain diner food. I would rather go to Chez Panisse or some local Indian place, but we must cater to her needs (she's a freshman at Cal). Any suggestions? I'm at my wits' end here. Thanks in advance.

  1. Ruth Lafler Sep 7, 2008 02:42 PM

    If she likes diner food, the Claremont Diner isn't bad, and the trains are fun. It's kitty corner from Noodle Theory and a short block from Wood Tavern, so you might want to try the others and plan Claremont Diner as your "fallback."

    Claremont Diner
    6200 Claremont Ave, Oakland, CA

    1. k
      Kim Cooper Sep 6, 2008 11:03 PM

      What about Barney's burgers on Solano? Are they still there?

      1. k
        kmah Sep 6, 2008 10:00 PM

        I second Luka's, they make a great burger, and their other options are great, using nice ingredients....but what about Pizzaiolo?? I'm biased, I work there, but plain pizza is ALWAYS on the menu (Marinara/Margerita), and everything else is wonderful. Depending on the night, other 'plain' food includes simple salads, meatballs, fried chicken...

        1. m
          ML8000 Sep 5, 2008 11:55 AM

          Soyarra...as the cool aunt, you owe it your niece and yourself to go somewhere decent. She'll appreciate it later...and next time you bring her somewhere nicer, she'll really appreciate after some major food suckage in the dorms. Yes, you must be the facilitator of good taste and/or eats. Also, she'll be going to Jupiter on her own soon enough and it really is a beer garden/college hang, although a nicer one.

          Besides Wood Tavern, Maritime East, T-Rex, add Fonda on Solano Ave.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ML8000
            Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2008 12:01 PM

            I don't think Fonda's a safe bet. Nothing as simple as a cheese pizza or burger:


            1. re: ML8000
              Glencora Sep 5, 2008 12:39 PM

              My son ate chips and salsa at Fonda. Period. At least he doesn't mind watching us eat. I agree with the other ideas, though, especially T-Rex. Cafe Rouge is good, too. She'd probably like 4th street, if she hasn't already been. I also recommend Luka's taproom in Oakland. It's a fun place and there is a range of food, as well as a plain burger. Open Sunday.

              As to whether she'll appreciate it later.... Who knows.

            2. t
              Truffle Dog Sep 5, 2008 10:57 AM

              Will Jupiter even let an 18/19-year-old sit down? It's a beer garden.

              A lot of these suggestions are good - I'd add one other: Nizza La Bella on San Pablo in Albany. They serve good New York style thin pizza and they also serve good Provencal style bistro food. They have great steaks too - not sure if that's "plain" enough. I recommend ordering the Steak Frites very rare - possibly the east bay's best. Also they have great cocktails (for you not the niece).

              4 Replies
              1. re: Truffle Dog
                Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2008 11:15 AM

                Nizza's another good option.

                Jupiter is technically a restaurant with on-sale beer and wine. It's good for pub grub, but why settle for that when you could go to Corso, Wood Tavern, Maritime, or Rouge

                Nizza La Bella
                827 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

                1. re: Truffle Dog
                  mitzimarmle Sep 5, 2008 02:23 PM

                  I've seen kids in the garden at Jupiter. No problem.

                  1. re: Truffle Dog
                    Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2008 06:43 PM

                    Despite the beer-bar atmosphere, Jupiter's a restaurant with a beer and wine license, just like Triple Rock and Lanesplitter.

                    1. re: Truffle Dog
                      tonyarose Sep 6, 2008 06:14 PM

                      Jupiter does card, but only at night times (late, like after 9 maybe?)

                    2. Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2008 10:25 AM

                      Corso has good pizza and Cafe Rouge, Wood Tavern, and Maritime East have great hamburgers. They all have lots of more interesting things and are open for dinner Sunday.

                      Wood Tavern
                      6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                      Maritime East
                      2826 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA

                      1788 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2008 11:24 AM

                        Corrected link:

                        Cafe Rouge
                        1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                      2. wolfe Sep 5, 2008 03:40 AM

                        Perhaps Bobby G's with a little less emphasis on beer.

                        Bobby G's Pizzeria
                        2074 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704

                        1. s
                          Sharuf Sep 5, 2008 02:43 AM

                          Being a picky eater drama queen is not a good social skill. I suggest you not "cater to her needs" but you can take her somewhere where they offer normal American food.

                          1. s
                            soyarra Sep 5, 2008 01:03 AM

                            Thank you all for these suggestions. Actually, my nephew (her brother) just yelled over the phone "Take her to Chez Panisse!," but my husband yelled in reply (we're a yelling family) from the next room that he's not paying those prices for her to stare at her food as if it had just been beamed in from another planet. Sigh. As such, the only viable option suggested here is Jupiter, so I suppose Jupiter it is. Thanks again, everyone.

                            1. m
                              ML8000 Sep 4, 2008 11:08 PM

                              Just bring her to Chez Panisse Cafe...they have pizza on the menu 98% (actually I think 100%) of the time. Just have her order it plain and get a salad. I don't know any better way to start off in Berkeley. She probably won't appreciate it fully until after she tells her friends...one of which will tell her how cool it is. Haha..in 3 years she'll be telling you where to go.

                              If you need that place between diner food and reasonable eats, I'd go to Venus, i.e., New American. You'll be able to get something decent and she'll be able to get something basic.

                              Venus Restaurant
                              2327 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704

                              1. k
                                karma_bites Sep 4, 2008 10:21 PM

                                Gregoire. You'll love it, she won't be intimidated. Can't go wrong.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: karma_bites
                                  JasmineG Sep 4, 2008 10:46 PM

                                  I would not take a picky eater to Gregoire, in general. This is their current dinner menu: http://www.gregoirerestaurant.com/men... Maybe the breaded chicken filet would work for her?

                                2. Windy Sep 4, 2008 09:52 PM

                                  Would she go for Middle Eastern/Israeli food? I'm very fond of the assorted salads, falafel, bastilla, and mint lemonades at Holy Land on College. There are a few more familiar/boring options on the menu like chicken soup.

                                  1. janetofreno Sep 4, 2008 09:47 PM

                                    A freshman at Cal needs to expand her horizons a bit......

                                    Seriously, what about T-Rex? I've never been there, but from the descriptions from chowhound it sounds like they may have that kind of thing....

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: janetofreno
                                      JasmineG Sep 4, 2008 10:03 PM

                                      They do have a regular burger on the menu, though if a slightly fancy regular burger bothers your niece, it may be too weird. You could go to Maritime East, they have a fantastic burger, and other good stuff for you (though it's not mostly diner food). You can get plain cheese pizza at Jupiter, but she'll likely go there a lot in the next few years.

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